I searched google, but I do not know what words like "one o'clock", "jack o'lantern", "lily o'the valley" are called.

Does any list exist? The motivation is just out of curiosity. (Reading a lot of Dickens which made me wonder about it.)

Thank you for the answer and time.


These are called contractions. Others include:

  • cat-o’-nine-tails
  • hop-o’-my-thumb
  • o’er
  • tam-o’-shanter
  • thick o’ fog
  • Tom o’ Bedlam
  • tot-o’er-seas
  • o’ my conscience
  • warpling o’ the green
  • will-o’-the-wisp

This is not a closed set. People make them at the drop o’ their hat.

| improve this answer | |
  • There are also thousands of Irish surnames like this. – James Oct 9 '15 at 22:47
  • That's an impressive list. Where did you find them? – chasly from UK Oct 9 '15 at 22:53
  • Thank you so much! That was fast. As chasly asked, do you have a link for a complete list? – Zeeshan Mahmud Oct 9 '15 at 22:54
  • @chaslyfromUK Perl magic: I merely grepped the OED for \bo'. If you don't restrict it to word boundaries with \b then you get answers that included things like po’boy, which is a type of sandwich, or St Elmo’s fire, which is a will-o’-the-wisp. – tchrist Oct 9 '15 at 23:02
  • Do you have to have a subscription for the OED? Where's the machine-readable text? – chasly from UK Oct 9 '15 at 23:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.